Hitachi will build 92 intercity trains in UK

A £4.5bn contract to supply Britain with the next generation of intercity trains was this week approved by transport secretary Justine Greening.

Agility Trains, a consortium made up of Hitachi and John Laing, has been awarded the contract to build and maintain the trains under the Intercity Express Programme (IEP), the project to replace Britain’s Intercity 125 trains with new higher capacity modern trains.

Hitachi will assemble an intercity fleet of 92 complete trains (comprising 596 carriages) at a new purpose-built factory in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham. This will create 730 skilled jobs – with a further 200 jobs during construction of the factory – and thousands more in the UK supply chain. The company will also locate its European rail research and development capabilities on the site which will further enhance the factory’s ability to win rail contracts across Europe.

As well as building the new state-of-the-art assembly facility, Hitachi will construct maintenance depots in Bristol, Swansea, west London and Doncaster, and will upgrade existing maintenance depots throughout Britain.

The IEP fleet will be comprised of electric and bi-mode trains, some five vehicles long and others nine vehicles. These will be faster accelerating than existing stock.

Responding to the news, Michael Roberts, chief executive of the Association of Train Operating Companies, expressed concern about the “contentious” Department for Transport-led procurement process. “Some of the earlier scope of the [IEP] project has been changed because of subsequent government decisions to electrify parts of the rail network,” he said.

“Train companies believe that the key to delivering better value for money is to ensure that they play a bigger role in shaping rolling stock solutions through the competitive franchising process. It will help get things done more quickly and bring down costs, and we welcome the government’s support for this approach.”

Construction at the Newton Aycliffe site is expected to begin in 2013. The first IEP trains will enter revenue-earning service on the Great Western Main Line in 2017 and on the East Coast Main Line by 2018.


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